I’ll be the first to admit that my Fridays aren’t the most exciting and haven’t been for quite some time. I spend most of them at home watching Glee, eating at Pizza Bell, or getting in knife fights at Strikes Family Fun Center. Rarely anymore do I grab drinks with friends or go out and party my balls off. I guess it is just part of getting older, settling down, and growing tired of hangovers killing my Saturdays (and Sundays for that matter). Don’t get me wrong; sometimes I miss getting Artie Lang-wasted on Friday nights with my friends. But recently, I discovered a different way to spend my Friday nights…watching Teen Idol competitions.
My wife’s younger sister is an extremely talented singer. She is only 12 years old, but sings like she’s been doing it for decades. Several weeks ago, she entered a local talent competition with a hundred or so other kids and made it out of the first round. The wife and I promised we’d be there for the semifinals and headed to Joseph Kerr Middle School in Elk Grove (after first hitting up Pizza Bell…baby steps). We arrived to an auditorium half-filled with a hundred or so people, all there to see family and friends take their best crack at local stardom.
The semifinals were hosted by none other than Bailiff Byrd from Judge Judy who, through terrible jokes and unrelated anecdotes about the Judge Judy Show, managed to turn a two hour competition into a nightmarish flashback to the time I hopped a five hour shuttle from Breckenridge to Denver with a German couple who spoke no English, in blizzard conditions, with a terrible hangover, driven by a fat, stinky failed stand-up comedian. It was hell in a Hyundai Santa Fe.
The “teens” were all pretty good. Some performed their own songs and played instruments, while others banged out songs I had never heard of nor cared to hear again (although now it seems like every time I turn on the radio I am bombarded with that awful song by Colby Caillat). The highlight of the evening, aside my sister-in-law’s performance, was the little Asian kid named Calvin who put together a flashy dance routine. I think the song he performed was Someday I’ll Be Carrying a Banner at Pride. My sister-in-law was impressive as usual and it was really no surprise that she managed to move on to the finals. Overall, I’d say the semifinals we’re pretty good, with the exception of a few performers who seemed nervous and lacked stage presence (i.e. didn’t move anything but their mouths).
The following Friday night was the finals. Again, we cleared our calendars so that we could be there in support (and again we went to Pizza Bell). The ten finalists were required to perform two songs back-to-back. For the finals, the Teen Idol folks tapped Elk Grove City Councilmember Pat Hume for hosting duties and moved Bailiff Byrd to judge. The judges now consisted of three 50-something heavy-set white women and Bailiff Byrd (which in hindsight was probably a dream come true for him). Mr. Hume on the other hand was a godsend. He kept his comments to a minimum and pulled off the suit and cowboy boots look that screams Republican elected official rather well.
First up was this kid who I really liked in the semis. He’s 11, plays the guitar, and sounds like a young version of Liam Gallagher (or a regular version of the guy from Maroon 5). For the finals, he decided to do some dance routine to a David Guetta song. He must have realized he didn’t hit the moves because he proceeded to sob like a bitch in the chair in front of me for the rest of the show. We had the same watch on so this was quite embarrassing. The next performer that stood out was this cat named Triton Taylor who did MJ’s Man in the Mirror and killed it (Triton is also 18 and should probably explore other paths for his music career like not competing against 11 and 12 year olds).
During intermission, the audience was treated to a dance routine by the Kool Krush Krew which consisted of six black girls and one white girl dancing to some song about knockin’ boots that went way over their head (I also think the initials of their dance krew went way over the black girls’ heads). After intermission, my sister-in-law did an amazing rendition of Temporary Home by Carrie Underwood, which I hope PWeekly links to here. Finally, this 14 year old black girl named Aretha Franklin Jr. came on stage and proceeded to destroy everyone with her rendition of And I Am Telling You.
The competition ended with the audience left speechless, wondering how in the hell the dance teacher for KKK could have missed the obvious (he was also black). My wife and I were also in awe at the level of talent these kids (and one young adult) possessed. The judges headed to Bailiff Byrd’s hotel room to tally the scores. I took a guess at the top-three and picked them all because I am amazing judge of talent and I knew no one was giving the award to a cry-baby. Aretha Jr. placed first, my sister-in-law second, and Triton Taylor took the bronze. When I asked my sister-in-law what she was going to do with the $500 she had won, she screamed in excitement, “Put it in my savings!”
Aside from the big win for the family, the highlight of the finals for me was the shirt one of the event’s middle-aged male hosts was wearing. It read: “Got Teens?” I don’t think he realized that wearing that shirt outside of the auditorium may lead to him having to register with local law enforcement for the rest of his life. Seriously, I am looking forward to the next one.
Unrelated Author’s Note: I am willing to bet all of you that PWeekly already has the new TNT series Franklin and Bash set to record on his DVR.